Children vs. Sons
By Charles H. Welch
Several Greek words are translated ‘children’ in the A.V. New Testament.
Brephos, a new-born babe, Acts 7:19.
Nepios, an infant not having the power of speech (Gal. 4:3; Eph. 4:14).
Paidion a little or young lad (Matt. 14:21).
Paidarion a very little lad (Matt. 11:16).
Pais a lad, boy, servant or maid (Matt. 2:16).
Teknon a child, one that has been born a child whether son or daughter (Matt.
Huios, a son, a male (Matt. 5:9).
The two words with which we are here particularly concerned are teknon and huios.
Unfortunately the A.V. have not been quite consistent in their rendering giving
us ‘child’ in seventy-seven occurrences and ‘son’ in twenty-one, as translations
of teknon, and translating huios ‘child’ fifty times, ‘son’ 120, ‘Son’ 210
times. It is evident even from this survey, that teknon means ‘a child’ as
distinct from huios which means ‘a son’, but there are passages where this
distinction should have been made clear where precision is dulled by the
translator. For example where John 1:12 reads ‘gave them power to become sons of
God’ it should read ‘children’. So also that well-known passage in 1 John 3:1,2,
‘that we should be called the sons of God’, ‘now are we the sons of God’ must be
altered to read ‘children of God’. John uses the word huios twentyfour times,
but never of a believer.
It is Paul whose ministry speaks of the believer as a ‘son’ (Rom. 8:14,19), and
the reader should remember when reading Galatians 3:7,26 to translate ‘sons’
here also. John’s ministry brings the believer into the family of faith, Paul
takes him further and gives him the position of a son. This distinction will be
better understood if the article on ADOPTION
be read. Israel as compared with the nations have the place of ‘sons’ although
the phrase ‘the children of Israel’ has become so commonly used that we do not
suggest that we should attempt to alter it, only that we should remember, that
where the A.V. reads ‘children of Israel’, the Greek uses the word huios ‘son’,
remembering too the inspired consequence ‘if a son, then an heir of God’. It
should also be remembered that all ‘sons’ must be ‘children’, but that all
children need not necessarily be sons. Neither Peter, James nor John use the
word huios of a believer, that is the exclusive testimony of the ministry
entrusted to Paul.